Update: On Friday, Gianforte's report was not ready yet. I've now included that information, as well as info about Fox and Bennett.
Montana statewide officeseekers had to file their latest campaign finance reports this week.
The reports give us information on the period April 15 to May 15.
From here on out until the primary, candidates must file a new report within a day or so of getting contributions or spending money.
This is why, for instance, Whitney Williams has filed additional reports this week...two on May 17, one on May 18, and two on May 19.
One on May 19 lists a dozen donations, most at a couple hundred dollars and most coming from California, New York, Washington and Florida. There are no extra expenditures.
Anyways, I figure I’ll give you some highlights from some of these candidates.
It’s interesting what Democratic campaigns waste their money on. This report shows $2,400 spent to give health insurance to Ronja Abel, Melanie Brock, and Emily Harris.
Each of those women gets paid $6,500 for the month. I think they can afford their own healthcare, but if Cooney thinks using campaign donations for that is going to help him win, then go right ahead. A big red flag is that Harris has never worked on a winning campaign, just three statewide campaigns that have gone down in flames. You get what you pay for.
A whopping $7,000 was spent to access the voter access network to spam and junk-mail unsuspecting voters.
How much does Cooney care about Montana’s struggling small businesses? Enough to give a Virginia firm over $75,000 to produce campaign videos that he can then bombard you with on TV and social media. For years I’ve been harping that Montana politicians should hire Montana video firms to produce their content, but they just laugh and ignore me and keep spending money out of state. The reason is as plain as day - they don’t really care about Montana.
Usually Montana Dems go with a Helena firm to do their payroll accounting and such. This month, however, Cooney decided to have a Phoenix firm do it, for $4,500. I hate to beat a dead horse, but that money could have paid a Montana worker/voter for months.
Cooney’s been living in Montana his whole life, but you wouldn’t know it based on how he spends his money.
On May 4, $37,000 was spent on polling. Imagine if all of us could spend a year’s worth of salary for some New York eggheads that we’ve never met to tell us how popular we are...or aren’t.
Nine days later, the anti-Whitney post about her running mate appeared on Montana Post, generating 39 comments. Coincidence...or reaction to the polling numbers that came back from the May 4 purchase?
If those poll numbers were good, why would the Dems feel the need to attack? Interesting questions.
Two days later, MT Post endorsed Cooney. A few days later, another Cooney puff piece appeared. Despite this talk of standing with all candidates in the primary, it’s pretty clear that establishment Dems are worried Whitney could deliver an upset.
The main reason this would happen is because Cooney is so incredibly boring. It'll be interesting to see how the Dems bull everyone back together after this primary.
$1,700 given to a D.C. firm to design a website to convince Montana voters.
A company in D.C. called GMMB got a whopping $160,000 for “advertising,” including a one-day photo shoot in Missoula that ran $3,100.
$9,000 was given to a D.C. firm to help her raise more money.
It’s a safe bet that the person raising the most money is probably spending the most money out-of-state.
Here are some highlights from Gianforte’s latest report, which wasn’t available when I first wrote this report last week.
Salt Lake’s Arena Communications got over $135,000 to design, print and then mail fundraising letters. A contract like that for a Montana firm? Could have put them in the red for years to come.
I’m not sure what happened in Billings on April 27, but Gianforte felt the need to hire a city police officer for 3 hours for $195. Perhaps Ben Jacobs was in town.
We have lots of items in Gianforte’s report, where the service received is simply listed as “see addendum.” Instances of this include $10,000 to Virginia’s FP1 Strategies, around $350,000 to Ohio’s Medium Buying,
I have a feeling that Gianforte finds the politics of Oregon to be abhorrent, but he still spent $11,500 with a company located there so they could do telephone polling for him from April 15-16. He either liked the results, or didn’t...as he spent another $17,350 with them to do more polling May 11-14. I wonder what these polls told him. I wonder if those results had something to do with another $500,000 loan to himself on May 8.
Gianforte is getting ready for the debates by giving a Boston firm $1,800 for “debate preparation.”
Now, those addendums.
These are separate documents that you have to go to a completely different spot on the COPP website to find. Most people will never look.
I could not find the addendums for this current report. All I could find was stuff from months ago. There we find that Gianforte has another $12,000 “hidden away” from prying eyes.
Fox doesn’t have a lot of big-ticket expenditures this period. I think his campaign is winding down in the face of the Gianforte campaign, and all its money.
Anyways, Fox spent $6,800 with a Virginia media company for...something. It’s another one of these “see addendum” entries. Personally, I think legislators should pass a law saying you can’t do this. I doubt they’d ever do something that would make their finances more transparent for voters, however.
Another $23,000 was given to the same company, though some of these have details, like 30-second TV ads.
So in effect, Fox - a man that claims he wants to create Montana jobs - spent $30,000 with a firm located 2,100 miles to the east of us when several firms in Bozeman or Helena or Missoula would have given their eyeteeth for that money.
But we’re not looking at this accurately. Those rich consultants in Virginia are more important than common voters in Montana. Those fat cats can influence hundreds, maybe thousands to vote for you. That Montana voter? He can only vote once. Tim knows who’s important, and it’s not the people living here.
Raph is another one that, when push comes to shove, would rather support out-of-state workers than workers here in Montana.
We know this because Raph spent $155,000 with a California company for 30-second TV ad spots. Imagine the generational wealth an ad buy like that would have created for a Montana business. Imagine what might have been.
Justin Ailport is the main staffer for Graybill, and gets $3,000 in pay. He used to work for the Montana Dems in Helena at their HQ. You’d think he might pull Raph aside and say something like, ‘Hey...maybe we should spent this money here, in-state.”
But that never happened. Worse, if it did, Raph consciously made the choice that Californians are more important than Montanans.
That’s an interesting approach, considering that you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to convince Montanans to vote for you, but you spend it in California.
This is the mindset of the people that want to ‘help’ you and your family.
Kim could have spent the $17,300 for printing and mailing here in Montana, but she gave it to a D.C. firm instead.
Jon is another Montana politician that doesn’t care about Montana businesses, just those out-of-state.
If that’s not true, why give over $80,000 to an Ohio company for 30-second TV ad spots?
Maybe a friend has the company. Maybe they do a special discount for Montanans. Or maybe Jon just sat down one day and threw a dart at the map.
Because what’s the difference between some media company in Ohio...or California...or D.C….or Virginia?
I think the only difference between those firms is that Montana Democrats and Republicans know they beat the hell out of Montana firms. Why else would they spend their money there? The optics of it are terrible, but these politicians know the Montana media will never report on this.
Because the reporters’ hands are just as dirty.
These politicians might hire an out-of-state firm to produce the ads, but they pay Montana TV stations to run them, and those TV stations pay reporters, and those reporters know not to bite the hand that feeds them.
So we get half-stories, because telling the whole story might make the boss at network mad, and we can’t have that.
So Montana voters are left in the dark, never knowing how rotten their politicians really are, how little they actually care about your or your family or that silly business you spent your life building.
These politicians don’t have time to care about you; they have an election to win.
I’m going to look at one more candidate today, in this update. It’s Bryce Bennett, someone that doesn’t have a primary opponent, and just a gaggle of goofs for the general.
Still, one of those goofs has a very good chance of winning in November.
That said, Bennett is the only candidate I’ve looked at that seems to put his money where his mouth is, and that’s in Montana.
Sure, there are some out-of-state expenditures, but these are small things, like giving $1,150 to the National Dems in D.C. so he can use their voter access database. Every candidate does this.
Besides that we have some stuff going to Facebook and Google in California, and some phone database stuff there as well.
He spent just $3,500 for the whole period. Not much to spend money on at this point. When he does spend it, I hope he spends it here.